A new gallery in New York for emerging designers

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Photo: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean Gerstley

At the mini-mall at 75 East Broadway, walk past beauty salons and discount shoe stores on the ground floor and up the stairs where the vintage James Veloria store, fashion label Eckhaus Latta, and the gallery of OCDChinatown art draws crowds, a monochromatic room painted in blue powder glows behind a huge picture window. Inside, honeycomb lamps, puzzle-like tables and geometric vessels by ceramic artist Sean Gerstley are arranged around the ten-by-ten foot space. In a spectrum of glazes ranging from pastel pink to ultraviolet through matte black, the pieces appear close enough to touch each other through the glass. The 12 works include “Tile Block,” Gerstley’s first solo show and the inaugural exhibit at Superhouse Vitrine, a new design gallery in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The name of the exhibition comes from the technique that the artist uses to make his tables: they are “blocks” of clay assembled to make furniture.

Photo: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean Gerstley

On opening night, a few hundred people walked in and out of the gallery – usually two at a time, it was really so tight – and spilled out into the halls of the mall. But that didn’t matter because of the way the gallery is designed. “I see it as a cabinet of curiosities,” says founder Stephen Markos. “It’s almost like a storefront.” The Superhouse curator had been eyeing the second floor of the mini-mall for a few years, and when the corner space opened up, he immediately signed a lease. When Markos spoke to Gerstley about the concept of the gallery as a showcase and how he wanted to put more than a dozen of his pieces there, the artist was skeptical. “I didn’t think it would fit indoors because usually my work has a lot of space around it,” Gerstley told me at the opening. “But it really worked.” The gallery is only open on weekends and by appointment, but you can see all the rooms clearly through the storefront glass.

Clockwise from left: Photo: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean GerstleyPhoto: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean GerstleyPhoto: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean Gerstley

From above: Photo: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean GerstleyPhoto: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean GerstleyPhoto: Sean Davi …
From above: Photo: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean GerstleyPhoto: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean GerstleyPhoto: Sean Davidson, Courtesy of Superhouse and Sean Gerstley

With Superhouse Vitrine, Markos offers a must-have venue for emerging contemporary designers who create functional art and are not already part of the collector circuit. “Friedman Benda, R & Company, Salon 94 Design – these are all great galleries, but there’s really nothing else on a different level,” says Markos. He hopes the space will become a destination for discovering new designers, much like Etage Projects in Copenhagen, Functional Art Gallery in Berlin and Art and Industry, the gallery in Soho that dealer Rick Kaufmann founded in 1977, which has was one of the first in New York. to exhibit art furniture.

Markos has run Superhouse primarily as a digital platform over the past few years with occasional pop-up exhibitions like “Supergroup,” an exhibition of 40 designers that opened last December at 15 Ingraham Street in East Williamsburg, and an installation with Adorno for Paris Semaine du design earlier this year. But he knew this was no substitute for seeing the real deal. “Last December, seeing people come in and watch a room with so much pleasure – they touch coins, they ask questions – you just don’t get that interaction through email or something like Instagram,” he says. he. “The community aspect is so important.



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